Management Article

Steven Ouellette’s picture

By: Steven Ouellette

What is the most important thing for your business to be working on right now? Would everyone else working there agree? Is everyone working toward the business’s goals? How do you know?

Most businesses in my experience cannot answer these questions. There may be metrics, but they are not translated down to individual contributors or integrated with each other. They may be incomplete. Management may announce every year that this is the year we are all going to work on profit, or customer satisfaction, or some metric they read about in an article, but they never translate what that means for individuals, and nothing seems to change. There is often an idea that we should be doing something as a business, but different opinions as to what that might be. There is internal competition rather than cooperation.

You need a process to not only be able to answer these questions, but also to answer them with data. Everyone in the company needs to be able to show how they contribute to the organization’s goals.

Philippe Aghion’s picture

By: Philippe Aghion

Imagine a ship at sea, at risk of sinking in a tempest. Is it better to empower the crew to do whatever it takes to save the ship, or should every decision be made by the captain and top officers? Similarly, what should the optimal form of firm organization be during a severe downturn? The need to make tough decisions—including layoffs—may favor firms that concentrate power at the top. However, the turbulence and fast-shifting conditions magnify the value of the information held by local managers.

The two views can be compelling. Indeed, in the depths of the Great Recession of 2009, a survey of executives by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit revealed that decision-making had become more centralized in the C-suite. The rationale: to emphasize “projects that provide benefits across the enterprise rather than individual units.” But in another report three months earlier, the same publication argued that “companies have to deal with dramatically more uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity in the current recession. Success does not come from centralization.”

So who should be in charge: the crew or the captain?

Michelle LaBrosse’s picture

By: Michelle LaBrosse

Do you find the idea of having to do project management almost as much fun as getting a root canal? If so, you’re not alone. But it doesn’t have to be as bad as a painful dental procedure to adopt more effective ways of managing your projects.

Nor does it have to be extremely boring or some type of mandatory activity folks know is good for them, but no one wants to take the time to do. That is the problem with how many good people approach what passes for “project management.”

Often, project management approaches seem to be to satisfy some bureaucratic mandate issued from on high.

In other words, someone somewhere thought someone else improving how they did their projects would be a great idea.

This is the lip-service approach to project management. It doesn’t grasp the why or how of effective project management.

Effective project management is essentially effective leadership

Here are 10 tips to be a more effective leader when doing your projects:

1. Start far fewer projects. Yes, you read that correctly. When you take the time to do a thorough feasibility analysis, establish the cost-benefit analysis, and evaluate the potential risks you could encounter, it’s likely most projects won’t even get off the starting block. This is a very good thing.

Drew Calvert’s picture

By: Drew Calvert

For the past decade, policymakers and nongovernmental organizations have pushed for greater transparency in supply chains, with the goal of encouraging more responsible sourcing practices. The Dodd-Frank Act, for example, required firms to disclose their suppliers’ involvement with any “conflict minerals” such as gold, tin, or tantalum, a metal used in phones and computers. More recently, France passed legislation to ensure carbon emissions reporting.

At the same time, many companies have pledged to be more vigilant and open about protecting the people who manufacture their products. After the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh in 2013—a building collapse that killed more than a thousand garment and textile workers—a number of brands joined a coalition to hold their suppliers accountable.

Zach Winn’s picture

By: Zach Winn

These days businesses have enough to worry about without thinking about their insurance. Unfortunately, tasks like managing insurance claims and completing annual renewals require a lot of thinking.

The startup Newfront Insurance is seeking to modernize the industry with digital tools that simplify insurance processes for brokers and businesses. The company’s platform automates tedious administrative processes for brokers while streamlining a number of repetitive tasks that have traditionally taken up customers’ time and headspace.

“More than half of a broker’s day is filled with administrative work—filling out forms, data entry, following up with underwriters—stuff they don’t like and they’re not very good at,” Newfront co-founder and CTO Gordon Wintrob says. “If you look at the rest of a broker’s day, it’s this really high-value consulting work where they’re understanding what clients are thinking about, what they care about, what the growth prospects are for the next one, three, and five years, and helping them grapple with the challenges they’re facing.”

NordVPN Teams’s picture

By: NordVPN Teams

According to Gartner, 99 percent of the vulnerabilities exploited in 2020 have been ones known about by security and IT professionals at the time of the incident. However, taking care of them is tiresome, as it takes 38 days to implement a patch and in the past year alone 12,174 new common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) were reported.

Software vendors are constantly publishing patches to fix identified problems, but the users themselves are responsible for the updates. Failing to install them leaves the back door open for cyber criminals who can utilize it for a breach.

Alena Komaromi’s picture

By: Alena Komaromi

When your own inbox is overflowing with unread messages, it may not seem like the best tactic, but with the right approach, email can be a powerful negotiation tool, not least in the B2B realm. According to 2019 research by IACCM, a global contract management association, about 75 percent of contract negotiations are completely virtual. 

Nowadays, many B2B sales negotiations involve an open-bid process with a standardized communication where relationship bonds are less important. In that context, emails offer a number of advantages. For instance, they can be instantly accessed, often by many parties in an organization, thus creating transparency. Emails also allow a rich diversity of materials to be used as attachments.

Negotiations via email can be particularly suitable when gender, age, or racial biases—or linguistic issues such as a strong accent—could mar the process. It can also help when there is a power distance between parties, or when some voices risk being unheard.

Corey Brown’s picture

By: Corey Brown

The ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic has forced companies of all types to rapidly update policies and procedures governing how they share information in response to a world that is constantly changing around them. For the manufacturing sector in particular, their workforce is more spread out than it has ever been, but communication remains essential.

Many knew that telecommuting was the future of the workforce in the United States—it’s just that few could have predicted that “the future” would have come along quite as quickly as it did. In April 2020, at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic, a massive 51 percent of people were working from home. Although that number had dropped to 33 percent by the following October, it’s still enormous, creating a challenge for the manufacturing sector in particular.

Thankfully, a wide range of digital tools have emerged for manufacturing companies that not only enable the rapid communication need right now, but that may also put them in a better decision-making position than they were in before all of this began.

Sky Cassidy’s picture

By: Sky Cassidy

Whether you subscribe to the scientific definition of data (information on which operations are performed by a computer and transmitted in the form of electrical signals) or the philosophical definition (that which is known and used as the basis of reasoning or calculation), I think most people use the word “data” incorrectly.

If you’re a data scientist, or you become upset that this will be the only time I use the singular form “datum,” this article will probably disgust you, and I apologize. On the other hand, if you’re in marketing, sales, or just about any other department, then I hope this will help clarify the overused but super-useful word “data.”

One of the roots of the problem with the word is when it’s used as a generic noun. It’s overused and causes confusion. Confusion is the enemy, particularly in sales and marketing. Granted, data is a useful word because it’s short. When used among a group of people who work with the same type of data, the term works as a reference for what everyone knows you’re talking about.

Merilee Kern’s picture

By: Merilee Kern

The benefits of simulation-based training are indisputable and innumerable. Given its power and efficacy, this methodology is used in sectors beyond aerospace and military, where it gained its initial foothold. These include everything from manufacturing and retail to healthcare, fitness, fashion, and hospitality, reports indicate.

No longer reserved for mammoth corporations, now businesses of every size and scope can benefit from highly optimized, interactive cyber-training innovations. These come in the form of short-burst, micro-learning 3D simulations that are now as accessible as they are effective. Such brief, easy-to-digest content, which learners can access on their own time, provides numerous benefits. At its highest level, 3D simulation remote-training methods can immediately teach employees how to effectively navigate difficult conversations and communicate in a way that drives optimal outcomes and enriches relationships—all irrespective of where that employee is based.

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